The Keighley 10K

Another year and another K Big K 10K has come and gone. And despite a few too many K’s on the wrong side of P.C, it wasn’t the marketing that concerned me in the days before the race.

Rewind one year and the Keighley 10K (my first ever) was an all together much more exciting prospect. Plenty of training and almost six dry weeks thanks to Lent meant I was much better prepared and a real contender for the win.

I actually ended up finishing roughly 9th, and 3rd in my age category – not bad for my first competitive 10K. I had gone in to this race confident and well prepared, and was rewarded for it.

Back in 2011 it was a different story entirely. In recent months I’ve ran more baths than 10K’s. A recent trial run in Lincoln left me in doubt as to whether or not I should run the race at all; a long-time niggle made running uncomfortable and a time of 45 minutes wasn’t encouraging. After a little thought though, I swallowed my pride. Resigned to the fact I wouldn’t be improving on my previous year’s time of 37 minutes, I focussed on the fact that my £15 on-the-day registration fee would be going to a good cause.

Unfortunately, helping Manorlands of Sue Ryder Care was little comfort to me as I struggled around a much hillier course than I remembered. Living in Lincoln had obviously left me unaccustomed to the harsh, northern, valley topography of the bustling metropolis that is Keighley.

Maybe I’d started too quickly, but by the first slight hill less than a mile into the race, my legs were beginning to feel heavy. One by one, people began to overtake me. I plodded on, happy to be overtaken, focussed on just keeping a steady pace. Encouraged by kind and friendly locals cheering me on, and a much needed boost from Liz and Mum amidst a particularly vertical section of the race, I plodded on.

Unfortunately for Mum, I declined to stop whilst she figured out the camera on her mobile phone…

Just up the road and into Lund Park, one more overtake was to stir me into pushing harder. Trisha Gavins, in fluorescent orange runners began to run alongside me. My cordial “morning” was met with a focussed silence, and a few hundred metres later, her concentration pushed her past. By the time We’d left Lund Park, she was out of reach. Desperately I tried to stay in touch before the inevitable photo opportunity at 220 Fell Lane, but when I tried to kick it up a gear lurching past Holme Wood, nothing happened. There was nothing in the tank.

Personally, I blame Mum’s budget muesli.

Dad was much more successful with his fancy pants camera, having to work harder this year than last, to pick me out of a larger congregation of runners.

A quick thank-you to the elderly couple outside the old scout hut who once again kindly provided water, bottle cap already unscrewed for convenience.

Running uphill, things went downhill quickly. I wasn’t humming the Rocky theme tune bounding up the cat steps this year. Approaching Burgess’ Field and I began to struggle with my breathing. My chest tightened, and this dip in performance was highlighted in the overtaking of me by a child who bore remarkable resemblances to Dylan and Cole Sprouse – the identical twins that shared the role of Julian, the child from 1999 film, ‘Big Daddy’.

“No way I’m being overtaken by Frankenstein!”, I thought to myself. Digging deep, I burst past and made my way down into Devonshire Park. The burst had cost me, and although I didn’t see the nippy nine year old again, a woman nearer ninety, bearing the red, white and green hoops of KCAC – the local running club – shot past.

One by one, similar ‘fun runners’ tore past, and my enthusiasm and desire to keep going lessened. Another quick glimpse of those bright orange trainers late on stirred another downhill sprint threw Cliffe Castle, but that didn’t last either.

Only the desperation to finish that arrived once the finish was in sight saw me over the line. With a few hundred metres to go, I glanced at my Nike+ Sportband. I’d set a target of 45 minutes, and mine read 43…

I gave it all I had, and, cheered on once more by Liz and a clap-happy Mum, sprinted the finish line. Seeing off a late challenge by a guy also wearing a red t-shirt (but not as nice as mine), I collapsed over the line.


10 minutes later and I’d picked myself up to cheer on my brother Liam over the line; he too, putting in a spectacular sprint finish. He’d beaten his unprepared, injury-adjusted target too.

Red faced, we were happy to have done our bit for the local community and headed home to pamper Mum for Mothering Sunday. As it turned out, we slept all day and woke to find dinner on the table – a minor technicality.

With luck, Liam and I will return next year, prepared and with an attitude to start the race how we’d both finished this year’s Keighley 10K.

A special thank-you to all who volunteered at the ungodly hour of 8 a.m. The marshals, photographers (not you Dad), and of course Sue Ryder Care.

See you all next year.


About Mike O'Keeffe

I live and breath racing. Especially, F1. Here you'll find an ocassional word or two on the ins and outs, the highs and lows and the controversies of motorsport's pinnacle.
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